Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Valentine's Day in July






Top: Eric and Lani, Macy's
Skirt: Material Girl, Macy's
Shoes: Alloy
Bag: Fred Flare
Belt: Wet Seal
Scarf: Wet Seal







Dress: Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Cardigan: Kohl's
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Scarf: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's







Dress: Kohl's
Cardigan: Delia's
Shoes: Alloy
Bag: Fred Flare
Scarf: Wet Seal


Retailers are always cashing in on the kitschy appeal of Christmas in July.  So I thought, why not celebrate the sweetest style holiday of them all and haul out the hearts and flowers half a year early?  Never mind that it's hot enough to melt your lace-wrapped Russell Stovers to fondue.  I'm not what you'd call a real retailer anyway, so all bets are off (although I am most certainly kitschy.)

Talking about hearts makes me think of heartthrobs, which makes me think of how this season of TV Land's decidedly kitschy original sitcom "Hot in Cleveland" has been guest starring Tim Daly. (Hey, I never said it'd be a young heartthrob; there's a reason why AARPs always courting me).  Not to be confused with Tyne Daly, who costarred with Amy Brenneman in "Judging in Amy," who in turn costarred with Tim in "Private Practice."  Don't you just love TV connections?  Speaking of which, I always liked Tim on "Wings," more than Steven Weber, although less than Thomas Haden Church.  There was just something about that jumpsuit . . .

But enough of that nonsense.  On to a more important love connection airing this July, namely my and the husband's first anniversary.  We officially celebrated on July 27, marking our second weekend of food-focused festivities, an event that started with a return to the scene of the ceremony, a. k. a. Renault Winery, and ended with a visit to Guy Fieri's new Atlantic City steakhouse.  What it most certainly did not include was the traditional eating of the frozen top tier of our wedding cake.  Well, at least not for me.  The husband very gamely and bravely bit into the freezer-burned buttercream.  Although I wrestled with doing the same, I ultimately decided that I'd put my intestines through enough during the last forty-eight hours. (I'm looking at you, Mac Daddy Mac n' Cheese.)  Here's what it looked like, though (the cake, not the mac n' cheese).  My artist's ego feels honor-bound to report that it originally featured red, yellow, and salmon roses, not just this frighteningly deep-freeze-leeched-yet-digitally-enhanced Ronald McDonald-esque duo of red and yellow.  That having been said, my inner Bridezilla of days past would be remiss (and I'm sure all brides say this, we being a notably narcissistic lot) in not mentioning that it was the most delicious cake I'd ever tasted (props, again, to the good folks at Renault).



While I'm on this me-me-me stroll down memory lane, here are a couple of wedding pictures in frames I embellished.  When the pictures were fresh last fall, I was the first one to point out the flaws, criticizing each unflattering pose, stray hair, and weird expression.  Now I just think about how happy we look, a sentiment that'll probably grow stronger as the years pass and our quirks (photographed and otherwise) wax even weirder.

Thank goodness I'm a big fan of weirdness.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Waxing Poetic . . .






Top: Marshalls
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: Venus
Bag: J. C. Penney's
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's







Dress: Macy's
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Bag: Chinese Laundry, Bloomingsales Florist & Gift Shop, Brigantine
Scarf: Boscov's
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk







Top: Wet Seal
Skirt: Material Girl, Macy's
Shoes: Venus
Bag: Target
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk

. . . about mustaches.  This post isn't so much about poetry as it is about a nineteenth-century novel-slash-ghost story's commentary on grooming, social and otherwise. (But more on that later).  At first I didn't want to have anything to do with these mustache beads.  I thought that the homage to facial hair was tacky, not cute, and I refused to be sucked into a fad that drew its strength from such a slovenly statement.  But the beads were on clearance.  And perhaps even more importantly, they were neon.  So I swallowed my pride and strung them up pretty, illuminating their dubious charms with seed beads in exuberant yellow. (Yellow, I've come to learn, is the cinnamon of the color world, making everything around it sweeter.)  And you know what?  The result was cute, fetching and cheeky like a menswear shirt with a mini, or Liz Lemon and Tom (Selleck) in "30 Rock's" heyday.  

So back to that nineteenth-century thing.  No sooner had I typed the words "Mistress Mustache" as the title of my Etsy shop listing, then I (half) remembered a quote from Wilkie Collins's Woman in White:

"I said to myself, the lady is dark.  She moved forward a few steps -- and I said to myself, the lady is young.  She approached nearer -- and I said to myself with a sense of surprise which words fail me to express -- the lady is ugly!"

The narrator is a well-meaning if misguided guy named Hartright, and what he should have said was, "The lady has a mustache!"  At least that's how I remembered his speech going when I retrieved it through the cobwebbed (albeit only ten-year-old) lens of my senior seminar.  Because the lady in question, the gender-bending Marian Halcombe did have a mustache, a detail furnished elsewhere in White's considerable pages.  Indeed, the whole mustache thing may just be the scariest part of this iconic Gothic gotcha ghost story.  It sure made me shudder.  If Wilkie had known that an unwaxed upper lip would become the accessory of choice for It girls everywhere, emblazoned hipster-style on coffee mugs and tote bags and (I take issue with this one) pacifiers, then he probably would've given her a big gross mole instead.

Because Marian is no It girl; in fact, I'm sure that she'd laugh in the face of trends, her mustache dancing with each unladylike chuckle.  Swarthy, masculine, and always up for challenging the status quo, she's the ideal foil for Laura, her fair-haired, feminine, and too-well-behaved half-sister, a girly girl so gullible that her niceness threatens to shackle her to an evil husband -- that is, unless Marian has her way.

Born of the Victorian serial stories that were the great-granddaddy of the mustache-twirling, tied-to-the-train-tracks melodramas that would emerge a century later, this is one caper in which an abundance of facial hair equals virtue, not vice.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Take Note . . .







Top: Marshalls
Jeans: l.e.i., Macy's
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Call it Spring, J. C. Penney's
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's







Top: J. C. Penney's
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Bag: Nahui Ollin
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City Boardwalk







Blouse: Candie's, Kohl's
Tunic: Candie's, Kohl's
Jeans: Kohl's
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Belt: Candie's, Kohl's
Sunglasses: Candie's, Kohl's



. . . in style!  For all those times when life seems like an endless errand, paper with pizzazz adds a certain something.  Indeed, to-do lists seem more manageable when accented by fruit and princesses and Hello Kitty.  I've collected countless notepads, journals, and note cards over the years; the little grouping here represents what remains and what is (of course) most photogenic.  I especially like collecting note cards because I love including handwritten thank you notes with my customers' orders.  There's something so nice about good old-fashioned, needs-a-stamp correspondence that you just can't get from a text or an email (a sentiment to which I steadfastly adhere even as I pen this digital post).  Long live the post office!

On another (ahem) note, above is the latest picture of my purple whatchamacallit plant.  A couple of weeks ago, I posted a different picture of my blossom buddy, also in the bloom of health, with the unfortunate report that it had since taken a turn for the worst.  (I didn't post a picture of that mess, dead flowers being less than blog-worthy.)  Guess what?  With a little more water and a little more care, this phoenix of a flower came back in full force, its plucky petals shooting up even taller than ever.  Sure, it has fewer blooms, and its added height has made it a little wild.  But these imperfections make it more interesting, adding character as well as strength.

Guess there's hope for this green thumb yet.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fireworks and Soda Jerks and Keeping it All Simply Strung






Top: Frederick's of Hollywood
Skirt: Lily White, Kohl's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Target
Belt: Izod, gifted
Scarf: Kohl's
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's







Top: Material Girl, Macy's
Skirt: Forever 21
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: Nordstrom
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's







Bra top: Boscov's
Cardigan: Kohl's
Jeans: Princess Vera, Kohl's
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Bag: Target
Belt: Izod, gifted

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with soda jerks.  It just made for a nice rhyme.  I wanted to be up front about that.

You'd think I would've busted out the red, white, and blue for this post-Fourth of July post, but America's b-day or not, I found that color palette to be limiting.  Not that I'm not patriotic.  If anything, I hold the Fourth near and dear to my heart because that's when I first met the husband.  Seven years ago I was at a BBQ, wearing not red, white, and blue but orange, white, and blue, and telling people that the fireworks had been cancelled.  Not in a killjoy kind of way, just in a spreading-the-word-to-anyone-who-asked kind of way.  Later I found out that there had never been any fireworks planned in the first place, that they'd been made up to lure people away from competing bashes.  Needless to say, my town crier act didn't endear me to the other guests.  Which was why I was surprised to find myself in conversation with anyone, let alone a fellow straight shooter.  He was kind and quirky and funny and certainly didn't care about my little gaffe.  We were getting along so well that I found myself opening up about yet another picnic faux pas, this one several years old and involving a worm discovered while corn husking.  He laughed, and I laughed; it was the beginning of something.  Although I didn't know it then, I would never have to go on a first date again.  

Wearing a new piece of clothing is kind of like a first date.  Everything's exciting and new, but you don't know exactly what you're doing.  Things are a little stiff, a little formal, and not yet ready to mesh with each other, the fashion equivalent of volleying canned queries like "What kind of music do you like?" and "Do you have any pets?" over a too-big fried appetizer sampler.  Take this A-line Lily White skirt from Kohl's, an example of transitional wear if ever I saw one.  I wore it with a yellow ruffly blouse to make it more summery, but the blouse was a little too, well, blousy.  Something fitted would've made more of a contrast against the skirt's fullness.  What's more, I teamed it with a pastel shell necklace, which played up the school's-out vibe, and gray lace tights and black patent T-straps, foisting fall upon myself far too early.  It was Miami Beach meets Central Park in October, not bad, but not good either, much like those nuked mozzarella sticks.  Next time and the time after that I'll have a better handle on how to style this skirt until outfitting it is as much of a no-brainer as throwing on my oldest jeans.

If that isn't love, then I don't know what is.